Car Control Clinic

The above video was filmed during our 2013 Ofest at Monterey's famed Laguna Seca.

Are you ready for some schoolin’?

Are you happy with your driving skills? Of course you are. Why shouldn’t you be?

Well, think about it: What car did you learn to drive in? How does it compare to the car you’re driving now—a little different? Check! More power? I bet!

Maybe now it’s a rear-wheel-drive car, and your last one was front-wheel drive. Or maybe it’s an X5 diesel SAV now, and you used to drive a Mini, or vice-versa—things change, and you could use a refresher.

But it has more safety features on it, right? Sure—but do you really want to rely on just ABS and an airbag to save you?

When was the last time you spun a few donuts in a parking lot to see how much oversteer you had in your car? What, you don’t know about oversteer? Hmmm.

How about understeer? Hmmm.

How far should you be looking down the road to use your “soft vision” properly? We can show you. Ever heard of target fixation? Or situational awareness? Hmmm.

Remember when you were changing lanes the other day and that car came out of nowhere and you said, “Where on Earth did he come from?!” No, all cars do not have blind spots. We will show you how to minimize the ones that do.

How do you know you are sitting in the seat properly? Is it just the way you’ve been sitting for the last 20 or 30 years? We can show you the proper position for comfort and control.

Remember last winter, when it snowed and the back end of your car slid out a little, and it scared you half to death? Did you react properly, or did you just stomp on the brakes? Thought so—we can help you with that, too.

You’d take a golf lesson to help you play better, right? Why not take part of one day—just half a day!—to help you drive better and perhaps save your life—or those of your family and friends? This year’s Oktoberfest Car-Control Clinic will be brought to you by the Tire Rack Street Survival program. This clinic is not specifically for teens, but if brought them to O’fest, they should attend.

The program begins with a little classroom instruction that will include a definition of terms to be used throughout the day, then two sections covering the topics based in the exercises. In the classroom, you learn about proper seating and hand positions, mirror placement, the concept of the contact patch of the tires, the theories of weight transfer, the use of long-distance vision and situational awareness. There will be a discussion of our in-car exercises so that you understand what each exercise is designed to teach, and how best to perform it. Questions are encouraged; teaching materials include visual aids and exercise descriptions, with drawings for clarification.

Classroom work is enhanced by driving the exercises with an in-car coach while practicing the concepts of car control. The exercise elements are laid out with safety buffer zones around them to provide a large margin of error, keeping participants out of trouble. The exercise area is isolated, to preclude access by other than school participants. Some parts of the pavement area will be watered down to minimize tire adhesion. This allows you to experience the vehicle’s responses to driver inputs at much lower speeds than in the dry. We’ll work on skid control on a wet skid pad; go through lane-change/accident avoidance maneuvers; do threshold-braking/ABS exercises and drive a slalom course to learn about weight transfer. Yes, you can do this in a convertible as well as a tin-top!

But the Oktoberfest Car-Control Clinic is just the adult version of our most important program; our primary mission is to help your kids become skilled, safe drivers. The Tire Rack Street Survival safe-teen driving program was launched more than ten years ago by the BMW Car Club of America Foundation, a 501c3 non-for profit organization; Street Survival is built upon the premise that safe driving is learned by doing. From the outset, Street Survival has always been “hands on” and designed to go beyond the typical high-school driver’s education program. Our program teaches students to avoid accidents by thinking and looking ahead. Street Survival is unique in that it offers students instruction in their own cars, so that they learn the limitations of their own daily drivers.

We held over 101 schools all across the nation in 2014, and we’re hoping to go further in 2015. Take a look at www.streetsurvival.org and see where we are holding a school close to you. If we aren’t close enough, maybe you can help us solve that. Let me know! I hope to see you at O’fest!—Bill Wade, National Program Manager, Tire Rack Street Survival